Alimony in Ohio is commonly known as spousal support. It refers to the payments made by one spouse to the other during a separation or after getting a divorce. It isn’t determined by gender – either spouse can pay alimony, depending on their income and resources. What’s more, a spouse will have to tick several boxes to be eligible for spousal support.
In this article, we offer an overview of the laws regulating alimony in Ohio, so that you can get a precise idea of what your options are when going through a divorce.
Eligibility for Alimony in Ohio
As a basic requirement, you must be married to qualify for spousal support. In Ohio, you must have a marriage license to show that you’re legally married. Also, you must be separating or getting a divorce from your spouse for you to be eligible for alimony.
Spousal support may be awarded in the form of property or a sum of money, which can be a lump sum or installments. If you’re getting a divorce, you can request spousal support from your soon-to-be ex-spouse. However, you have to show that you need financial support. Also, your spouse should have the financial ability to provide spousal support.
Calculation of Alimony: How Is Alimony Determined in Ohio?
Under Section 3105.18 of the Ohio laws and administrative rule, various factors determine whether you qualify for alimony in Ohio. These also help determine the form, amount, terms of payment, and duration of spousal support. Before making a ruling regarding alimony, the court shall make the following considerations:
- The income of both parties. Taking into account all the sources, their income could be in the form of divided, distributed, or disbursed property.
- The relative earning ability of each spouse.
- The age and the physical, emotional and mental state of each spouse.
- The retirement benefits of each party.
- The length of the marriage.
- The spouse with the custody of a minor child, and whether it would be inappropriate for that spouse to seek employment outside their home.
- The spouses’ standard of living set during their marriage.
- The level of education of each spouse.
- The property and debt of each spouse, including but not limited to payments ordered by the court.
- The contribution of one spouse to the other’s education (like a professional degree), earning ability, or training.
- The cost and time it would take the spouse requesting spousal support to sufficiently acquire education, training, or working experience. These are considered essential to secure suitable employment for their sustenance.
- The tax consequences that the spousal support award would have on each spouse.
- Whether a spouse lost their “capacity to generate income” due to the fulfillment of their “marital responsibilities.”
The court may also consider any other factor it explicitly terms relevant and equitable.
Types of Alimony in Ohio
There are two main types of spousal support in Ohio: temporary or permanent. Temporary spousal support is awarded at the beginning of the divorce proceedings to sustain a spouse throughout the process. The payment for temporary alimony stops when a judge signs a divorce decree or issues a new support directive.
- Temporary alimony is commonly awarded where there is a significant difference between the spouse’s incomes. A judge is also likely to award temporary alimony if one spouse paid utility and marital expenses. In some cases, proof of financial dependency on a spouse may be enough to get temporary spousal support.
- Permanent alimony doesn’t necessarily mean life-long spousal support – it can be for a short or long time. If awarded, it means that the supporting spouse will continue to pay alimony after divorce for a specified period or until the judge orders otherwise. When a court establishes that a spouse isn’t able to support themselves financially, they will most likely award permanent spousal support.
Here’s an example to drive the point home. Suppose a spouse quit their job to support the family or help advance the other spouse’s career. That spouse may have a challenge regaining their job without acquiring the necessary skills. A court may find it fitting to award permanent alimony until such a time when they have acquired training and are capable of becoming financially independent.
Determination of Temporary Spousal Support
Unlike child support, there is no predetermined formula to calculate the amount of temporary spousal award during a divorce. The court will make various considerations, including the earning capacity of each spouse and the necessary resources during divorce proceedings.
Modification or Termination of Spousal Support in Ohio
Before you ask: Yes, spousal support can be modified or terminated. When making a ruling, a court can insert a clause indicating that it retains the power to hear any formal request to modify the existing award. Alimony laws in Ohio also allow for spouses to agree to make the support order modifiable.
When the divorce decree doesn’t state that the court retains jurisdiction, then spouses can’t modify the support order. Even in cases where the court retains the power to modify the order, spouses still have to fulfill some requirements. Specifically, the spouse requesting the modification must show that there has been a substantial change in their financial circumstances.
In most cases, such changes couldn’t have been anticipated when the court was making the original ruling. A change in circumstance of a spouse includes, but isn’t limited to:
- An increase in either party’s income or assets, or an involuntary decrease in the supporting spouse’s income.
- Remarriage of the spouse receiving alimony.
- Death of either spouse.
- Cohabiting or entering a relationship in another state that would legally be considered marriage in Ohio.
- Retirement of either spouse.
- Any other change that makes the existing award of spousal support no longer appropriate and reasonable.
When determining whether to modify an existing spousal support order, the court will also consider a voluntary agreement by the spouses in the initial order. If it is present, the court will go ahead and enforce it. Otherwise, the court will exercise its power as contained in the original ruling.
Myths about Alimony in Ohio
Ohio alimony laws contained in the Ohio revised code regulate all issues regarding spousal support in the state. Yet, there have been many myths about alimony over the years. Let’s get into it and talk about some of the most common myths about spousal support.
– Alimony Is Permanent
By now, it’s clear that alimony can be temporary or permanent. That said, “permanent” doesn’t always mean that the supporting spouse will pay alimony throughout the other spouse’s life. Spousal support is meant to help the financially dependent spouse get on their feet. When such a person secures a well-paying job or gets remarried, payment of spousal support may stop.
– Only the Wife Can Get Alimony
Spousal support isn’t only reserved for the wife in a marriage – the husband, too, can qualify for receiving alimony. Today, more women are stepping up to the role of breadwinner in their families. It is not uncommon for the wife to be in a better financial position than the husband. In such cases, the husband can be awarded spousal support if they tick all the boxes.
– Spousal Support is a Monthly Check
Alimony mustn’t be paid in monthly installments. Spouses may agree on other forms of spousal support like property division and making a lump-sum payment. If the spouses can’t agree, the court will find an appropriate and reasonable form of payment.
– Alimony Maintains a Spouse’s Lifestyle of Their Marriage
Another misconception is that spousal support is meant to maintain a spouse’s standard of living as in their marriage. That’s far from the truth: Spousal support is meant to pay for basic needs, like housing, food, and utilities. Spouses getting a divorce shouldn’t expect to receive alimony for such things as vacations and expensive designer clothes.
– The Amount of Alimony Depends on a Spouse’s Behavior
Various factors determine the amount of alimony to be awarded, and a spouse’s behavior isn’t one of those. Moreover, Ohio is a no-fault state on matters of divorce. It follows that the court can’t base alimony awards on the behavior of a spouse.
Common Questions About Spousal Support Ohio Residents Ask
For more insight into this topic, we’ve answered some common questions about alimony in Ohio.
– How Long Does Alimony in Ohio Last?
Temporary spousal support is payable during the divorce process. Once the court makes the final ruling, the supporting spouse stops making payments for spousal support. While Ohio divorce laws don’t specify the exact duration of a divorce, most will take 12-18 months to finalize. As such, temporary alimony may last a year or continue indefinitely depending on the complexity of the divorce process.
For permanent spousal support, the court may include a specific date in the alimony order to mark the end of payment. The court may also retain the power to make decisions on the payment of permanent spousal support. The judge can review the alimony order and decide whether payment should continue as is or be terminated.
Ohio laws also provide that spousal support can end upon the occurrence of certain events. Such events include, but are not limited to, the remarriage of the recipient and the death of either spouse.
– Can I Avoid Paying Spousal Support?
There’s no hiding that spousal support can cause serious strain to your finances. Supporting spouses are forced into making significant changes to their lifestyle and monthly budget. Still, some individuals are tempted into doing sneaky things to avoid the financial burden that comes with spousal support. However, you must approach this issue with caution, concern, and morals.
The question remains: is there a legal way to avoid paying spousal support to your ex-spouse? The simple answer is yes. Here are some tips that can help you do that without legal consequences.
Be Smarter With Negotiations
When drawing up your divorce settlement, consider offering your spouse the marital homes, a larger portion of marital assets, or retirement accounts. Keeping your soon-to-be ex-spouse satisfied may be a good way to save yourself from having to pay spousal support.
Adopt a Simpler Lifestyle
After a divorce, the supporting spouse has already likely made significant changes to their lifestyle. This is necessary to compensate for the money that is being spent on paying spousal support. If you can downgrade by working a lower-paying job, you can request a court to consider terminating spousal support due to income reduction.
Keep a Keen Eye on Your Spouse’s Relationship
In Ohio, a court will order the termination of spousal support if the receiving spouse remarries. So, keep tabs on your ex-spouse and note their relationships. When any significant life changes happen, make sure you’re aware so that you can request termination of alimony.
Request a Judge to Evaluate Your Ex-Spouse’s Ability to Work
After divorce, your ex-spouse may prefer to remain a stay-at-home parent, even though it isn’t necessary. If they are educated and have the skills to secure a job, you can request a vocational evaluation. This helps establish how much they can earn by securing a job in their area of skills. Even if they may not secure a job immediately, a court may consider ordering alimony only temporarily.
We’ve delved into the details of spousal support in Ohio, but here are the main points to note:
- Spousal support is meant to help the dependent spouse with their basic needs following divorce.
- Spousal support can be temporary or permanent.
- Spouses can agree, or the court can decide the amount, form of payment, and the duration of spousal support.
- It is possible to modify or terminate spousal support.
- There are legal ways of avoiding paying spousal support.
You and your spouse can agree to the terms of spousal support, but a court will intervene if you can’t. The court will consider the various factors before awarding spousal support. If you or your ex-spouse experience a significant life change, you can request a court to modify or terminate spousal support.
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